LITTLE VALLEY — New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Thursday an audit had been issued concerning a recent village of Little Valley capital project.

Objective of the audit was to determine whether the village’s Board of Trustees properly planned and sufficiently monitored the wastewater treatment plant project completed in 2020, the comptroller’s office said.

The audit found that while the board did properly plan for the project, they could have better managed certain aspects of it.

Mayor Jim Bowen said the state performed a routine audit on the village’s finance and the project came up a lot during that process.

“Overall, I think everything came out well,” he said. “Their findings were stuff that we knew and hope to do better at in the future.”

The project, which began construction in July 2018 and was completed in October 2020, was to perform normal maintenance and repairs to the decades-old plant, Bowen said, as well as some upgrades that came along as the project went along. The project’s initial construction timeline was March 2016 to December 2017.

“After they already had plans for the treatment plant, (Ellicottville Brewing Company) got in touch and wanted to come into Little Valley,” the mayor explained. “That delayed the process a bit there and split the project into two phases because they didn’t think they’d have time to finish everything that needed to be done to accommodate EBC.”

Auditors determined the board developed a financial plan that addressed the impact of project debt payments. The project cost an estimated $5.1 million and issued $3.2 million in debt, according to the audit.

Village officials incurred $67,000 in additional expenses because they were unable to comply with certain grant funding requirements, auditors concluded.

In addition, project delays and project scope changes added an additional $220,000 to the WWTP project costs.

“Towards the end of it here, I know there were a lot of manufacturing delays with the COVID issues, so getting parts and pieces was a hard thing to come by,” Bowen said. “It just took more time than anybody could have planned for.”

Auditors recommended the village adhere to original project designs, to the extent possible, and carefully evaluate all change orders to ensure the project is completed in a timely manner and avoid unnecessary costs.

“That was the hard part. There was stuff they didn’t expect to need as the project was going along that turned out the operators wanted and they weren’t in the original plans,” the mayor said.

The comptroller’s office said village officials agreed with the findings and indicated they plan to initiate corrective action on future projects.

“Having a better plan to start out with would be the big thing that we need to focus on going forward with projects like that,” Bowen added. “I think it was a good process for us and we did learn some things that we need to do better at, and I think we will in the future.”

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)

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